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Detailing Communications With a Parenting Consultant
When working with a parenting consultant or parenting time expediter, it is very important to keep detailed records. I know it is hard to be organized when you are a single parent, but if you can keep detailed records as organized as possible, you can watch for inconsistencies in decisions.
An easy way to do it is to buy a three ring binder and put all communications, or at the very least, all of the parenting consultant or parenting time expediter decisions in chronological order. It is much easier to find things when you keep them in one place and they are organized in some way that you can find them easily, should you need them. It is much easier to have some order to these documents than it is to search the whole house. If a three ring binder does not work, try to keep them in a drawer or even a box and categorize them by month and/or year. However it works for you, treat these documents as important and with the mindset that you will need them at some time in the future. You want to access these documents, know what the PC decided and why, if he or she has documented their decision. This way, you can watch for inconsistencies and question them if they do not stay consistent.
For example, suppose two years ago they made a decision about soccer or hockey. Your ex wanted your child to participate in sports. Supposed the PC decided that sports are very important and he/she said they were allowing the other parent to take the child to hockey so that they could learn about teamwork, good sportsmanship and having fun with other children. Suppose that now, you are requesting that you be allowed to take your child to softball practice and this time, the parenting consultant says no. If you have kept that document, you can point out to the parenting consultant that he/she is giving you a different message than before. Do not frame it as, “you allowed mom/dad to do it two years ago and now you are not allowing me to do it”, instead frame it as, “I do not understand why you thought sports were important two years ago, but now make a decision that does not support your previous decision. Could you explain it to me so that I understand the difference?”
Most parenting consultants will not change a decision because they do not want to appear easily swayed, however, you may have brought it to their attention that they are giving you mixed messages and that your child is getting mixed messages, they may be more mindful of this in the future.
One last thing, when you have phone or in person communications with a parenting consultant or parenting time expediter, you should follow that up with an email to summarize the key points. If you can do it the day of, or the following day, you will have record of dates and times and also what was discussed. Here is an example:
Yesterday we discussed which school the children will attend in the fall. We also discussed how putting in place a process for weekend swaps when I have to work every 8th weekend. Jim and I disagreed on both. It is my understanding that you will be making a decision on these key points within one week.
Please let me know if you should need more time or if this was not your understanding of yesterdays events.
You should always cc the other parent. They may be upset thinking that you are up to something. Do not worry about that, it is their problem and not yours! This is a way to keep track of all use of the parenting consultant, not to mess with your ex. Besides, if your ex does send back some nasty reply (to all), the PC will see how they behave and that is always a good thing.
If the parenting consultant usually sends out a summary after a meeting or phone exchange, it is not necessary to send your own email. The sole purpose for emailing the PC and the other parent is just to document what happened and when for your own use.
About lifesdoorsmediationI am a mediator, Life and Divorce Coach and an Instructor of a High Conflict Divorce Program.
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